EC: Is Microsoft Pressuring Witnesses in Antitrust Case?

The European Commission is asking PC makers and software rivals if Microsoft has been pressuring them in connection with the ongoing antitrust case concerning Web browsers, one such company said Tuesday.

The Commission, Europe's top competition regulator, has sent around a questionnaire concerning its preferred remedy for restoring fair competition in the browser market.

Most of the nine questions seek feedback on the remedy, which would involve the creation of a so-called 'ballot screen' containing a list of browsers that users would refer to when connecting their new PCs to the Internet for the first time.

They ask questions including the following: which browsers the companies feel should be included on the ballot screen, how the screen should be designed, and whether the browsers' software should be pre-loaded in full or if the ballot screen should just include a link that would allow easy downloading of the browsers, according to one executive who has seen the questionnaire.

But three of the questions try to ascertain whether or not the software giant is trying to influence the outcome of a procedure known as market testing of the remedy, in Commission speak.

"They ask if Microsoft has exerted untoward pressure on us in the market testing process," said the company executive who asked not to be named.

"These three questions show that the Commission is wary of Microsoft influencing  the market testing procedure," said a competition lawyer involved in the case who also insisted that he should not be named.

The deadline for replies to the questionnaire is this Friday.

Subscribe to the Today in Tech Newsletter

Comments